The new decade has ushered in a new year of Colorado Avalanche hockey, and with it, more questions. After starting the year with a commanding statement 7-3 win over the Central Division-leading and defending Stanley Cup-having St. Louis Blues, and following that up with an equally impressive dismantling of the Devils in New Jersey, the Avs dropped a dud and were shutout by their old pal Semyon Varlamov last night.
Speaking of goalies, let’s start there.
Annunen just put himself on the radar of a lot of hockey folks, what should the Avs development plan be for him going forward?— Jim (@JimCarlson1571) January 6, 2020
Man, that Justus Annunen guy is pretty good, eh?!
It’s refreshing to see the the Avalanche with what so far appears to be a very solid homegrown goaltending prospect, in addition to what we’ve seen so far from Adam Werner with the Colorado Eagles.
The Avs have struck out on their last few goalies, i.e., Spencer Martin, Maximilian Pajpach, Sami Aittokallio, Calvin Pickard — the list goes on. Peter Budaj was really the last time the Avs successfully, drafted, developed and iced a solid goaltender, and he was taken in the second round of the 2001 draft — and for some added context, that was shortly after Annunen’s 1st birthday.
Part of that is on the players themselves and part of that blame lies on the organization, although, to be fair, goalies are notoriously tough to develop.
As far as Annunen goes, he is likely to stay in Finland for his 20-year old season. He’s been one of the best goalies in their top league and playing behind a good team will go a long way for his development. Annunen playing another year in Liiga will give the team time to assess exactly what they have in Adam Werner. It will also provide more celerity as to how the long-term commitment to Pavel Francouz looks. When you have guys like Werner and Annunen, you want them both to have a starters role so having them both with the Eagles wouldn’t make a lot of sense.
Annunen’s looked way ahead of schedule thus far. The 2018 third-round selection has been shutting down Liiga, Finland’s top hockey league, all season this year. He broke a 20-some year league record for longest shutout, stopping everything thrown his way for nearly 287 consecutive minutes (4 3⁄4 games); he leads the league with an insanely-low 1.26 goals-against average and a heroic 9.47 save percentage; and he just helped Finland to a fourth-place finish at the World Juniors, where he posted a .916 save percentage and one shutout.
That said, Francouz is only on a one year deal so if he decides he wants to try to find a bigger role elsewhere, the Avs might need Annunen over in North America next season.
Frankie is a UFA at the end of this season, and Grubi at the end of 2020-21. What does Joe’s playbook say to do in this situation?— Richard Taylor (@RichardBTaylor_) January 6, 2020
While Werner was forced to step in while the Avs were a medical ward on ice back in November, and he did earn a shutout in his first NHL career start and he’s been more than serviceable in the AHL, I think it’d be rushing him a bit to make him play the backup to Philipp Grubauer next season. That said, the move would be to re-sign Francouz.
The question then becomes, what are the terms? And if you’re Joe Sakic, you’re always planning ahead for the Seattle expansion draft come offseason 2021, the same offseason in which Grubauer’s contract will also be up. As young as Grubauer is and as long has he remains as solid as he’s been, he’ll be re-signed. Rules permit only one goalie be granted protection in the upcoming expansion draft, leaving one having to be exposed. That being said, Francouz should be re-signed to an affordable two-year extension so he’ll be the one exposed in the draft, while Grubauer is protected.
Do you think Colin Wilson will be resigned ?— Bobby Mathieu (@BobbyMathieu84) January 6, 2020
Resigned, as in to leave his job? Yes. Re-signed, as in to have his contract extended by Colorado? No chance.
His unfortunate injury history and lack of discernible production has lost him a roster spot. The Avs will move on without his services after his contract expires this offseason. Or, at least they should.
clearly Jost isn’t living up to expectations. How long do you think the team keeps him in the lineup?— Jon Easdon (@shredcolorado) January 6, 2020
I think a lot of people are just ready to give up on Tyson Jost. He was a big name that was thrown out there during the Great Taylor Hall Trade Rumor of 2019 and I’m sure his name will continue to be thrown out in the trade circle as we approach the February deadline.
As far as him staying in the lineup goes, I don’t really see a better option outside of Jost. Perhaps Logan O’Connor gets a call-up, but other than that, Jost really isn’t doing that bad. Stats are not everything in hockey, especially for a guy like Jost, who is a third and fourth-line guy.
When the stats aren’t coming, you look at what a player does without the puck to assign value. That is, for you analytics people out there, his Corsi. And for Jost, his Corsi For percentage isn’t bad at all. In theory, a player with a percentage above 50 is controlling the puck more than he is not. Jost sits sixth on the team (among players on the team who have played more than 35 games) with a 51.5 percent, which is impressive because he starts in the defensive zone more times than not. He’s fifth among forwards in that regard. So you take that micro data and you can start to paint a broader picture of his usage, which is this: Jost is thrown on the ice and asked to take D-zone face-offs for the most part and is still able to control the puck, exit the zone and create chances in his minimal usage (his 12:23 of average ice time per game is the lowest on the team among forwards). That’s one of the reasons why he’s a plus-10 this season (fifth among Avs forwards).
It’s been a tough year thus far for Jost, and he certainly hasn’t looked like a 10th-overall player. I’ll give you that. But he’s carving out a defensively-sound role for himself that’s keeping him on the team (think: Val Nichushkin, who also has created a similar role as Jost’s and was also a former 10th-overall pick).
Is he re-signed? Maybe. As long as he doesn’t demand anything much more than his current $1.67 million AAV.
It's trade deadline day.... Youre comfortably in the 2 spot in Central.. 6 points out of first... Still have the most potent offense in hockey.. Do you make a trade? If so for who and what do you give up?— Bryce Callahan does not exist (@VegasDegen1985) January 6, 2020
As I said during the Taylor Hall trade rumblings, I don't think they should give anything up for a rental. Like you mention, the Avs have the most potent offense in hockey and that will likely stay top-five until the remainder of the season barring any more serious injuries (*knocks on everything wood around me).
Jost is likely the asset the Avs have on their roster that they could give up. If a strong veteran shutdown defenseman is made available, if I’m Joe I’m calling. I think that’s what the Avs need to take the next step. Defense has been worrisome at times and a strong solid D-man couldn’t hurt.
Zach Bogosian fits the bill and he’s a right shot, of which the Avs have very few on the blueline. He just requested a trade out of Buffalo and they’ll look to move him by February, if not sooner. He’s signed to a $5 million contract and the Avs would probably need to ask Buffalo to retain some of that salary for a deal to work. Which means the Avs just throw in an extra late-round draft pick.
Hypothetically speaking, who would you like see the Avalanche make a move for? Throw your scenarios in the comments below.
Can Byram Bowen play in the AHL next season?— Rick Sallee (@ltcpain75) January 6, 2020
The answer is no. Why, you ask?
So here’s how this works. In 1979, the NHL lowered the draft eligible age from 20 to 18, right? Well an agreement was made with the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) — which is the “major junior” umbrella that is the WHL (where Byram currently plays), the QMJHL and the OHL. The agreement stated that players drafted by the NHL but that didn’t make the NHL team out of training camp their first year had to be returned to their respective CHL team that holds their rights.
The idea for this was to keep the CHL competitive rather than having one(season)-and-done players create a revolving door in their league, thus creating too much parity and uncertainty from season to season.
I hope that made sense.
Byram is currently 18 and will turn 19 right before training camp next season. It’ll be the same situation as it was in training camp before this season. He’ll have to make the Avs team out of camp or risk being sent back to the WHL, and that cycle will repeat until he’s 20 years old and then therefore eligible for the AHL.
Do we know if Nantel is hurt? Seemed like he’d been playing pretty well, but now (IIRC) hasn’t been in the lineup for a while.— ❤️ Marie Sexton ❤️ (@MarieSexton) January 6, 2020
When I reached out to Colorado Eagles PR about this, he said it’s mostly been coaches’ decision as to why he’s out, not injury.
He’s looked solid, but the Eagles have their healthiest lineup they’ve had all season and Nantel has just been the odd-man out.
Gabriel Landeskog (now) vs. Peter Forsberg (in his prime): who could eat more Swedish fish? pic.twitter.com/G1k5aY99Mg— BKS (@gusbeansjr) January 6, 2020
I’ll leave this one to you guys:
Who could eat more Swedish Fish?
This poll is closed
More questions, comments or concerns? Hit me up on Twitter anytime @0ffScottFree. See you next Tuesday!